Italy have been without a permanent coach since Gian Piero Ventura was sacked after they failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years after losing to playoff opponents Sweden in November.
Ranked 20th in the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, Italy will look to return to the big stage by securing qualification for UEFA EURO 2020.
Roberto Mancini aims to rebuild the Italian national team that failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Mancini will stay at Zenit until the final round of Russian fixtures on May 13. Carlo Ancelotti, also touted as a possible replacement for Arsène Wenger, is thought to have turned down an offer for the post.
Mancini, a gifted forward in his playing days, won a surprisingly modest 36 caps for Italy and never played at a World Cup, although he was an unused member of the 1990 squad.
"I hope I can be the person who brings Italy back to a significant triumph".
The Italian guided Manchester City to FA Cup and Community Shield glory although the highlight of his management career thus far undoubtedly came in the 2011/12 season when he steered City to their historic first ever Premier League title.
He never became a regular with Italy during his 10-year global career, during which he won 36 caps and scored four goals.
"To coach the national team is a reason to be proud for anyone. It's a hard time and there's a lot to do", Mancini said at the national team's training center in Florence. The Italy squad will convene on May 22 ahead of friendlies against Saudi Arabia (May 28), France (June 1) and the Netherlands (June 4).